Key Messages

There are many things posted on this web site. If I could only communicate for a short while, I would tell the stories recorded here by the Nourish Project in Peterborough:

What Our Lives are Made Of  2.57 minutes
Your Long Body and Spaceship Earth  2.37 minutes

The key messages that these stories contain are:

* The physical components from which we compose our bodies are easy to find and can be maintained indefinitely in local areas.  Knowing that the physical necessities of healthy life can be secured makes prospects for the future brighter.

* The analogy of Spaceship Earth clarifies how we can perpetuate humanity by accommodating planetary limitations of material resources, energy and the ability of the Earth to absorb our waste.

* Our Long Bodies are the total of all the physical substances from which we compose our bodies over our entire lifetimes.  Only a small portion of one’s long-body is inside one’s skin at any particular time.  However, over the course of one’s lifetime, every bit of it is part of one’s self.  Nevertheless, the vast majority is always outside of one’s skin, in the biomass – the environment – where other life forms can use it to build their bodies.  Through the sharing of life substances, we are intimately related to all that lives. 

* Understanding that most of the substance of our long bodies (our physical selves), both that which we have been, and that which we have yet to absorb, is in the environment, highlights the personal connection we have with impacts resulting from the release of dangerous substances into the environment.

* In addition to securing our physical lives by cycling nutrient substances, we can build shelters that capture and hold the Sun’s warmth in cold seasons and keep the heat out in the summer.  It is not necessary to import energy for heating and cooling.  Education consists mostly of knowledge and goodwill, both of which are practically unlimited.  The same goes for preventative healthcare.  We know what foods, activity and community relations stimulate good health.  By learning these details and encouraging each other to live by them, we can avoid much complicated, costly health intervention.

* When we are comfortably housed, well fed and healthy, life offers lots of opportunity for challenge and stimulation.  Recreating society to fit comfortably within the limitations of our planet is the greatest challenge our species has ever faced.  If personal inspiration is still desired, there are endless possibilities to pursue using our human abilities to learn, relate, appreciate and create, with each other and with materials safely available from the Earth.

An exercise to stimulate thought about what will help secure the future is to distribute the following outline of sustainability and encourage students (and staff) to pick it apart.  

Well-being can be sustained when activities: 

#1 Use materials in continuous cycles. 
#2 Use continuously reliable sources of energy. 
#3 Come mainly from the qualities of being human (i.e. creativity, communication, coordination, appreciation, and spiritual and intellectual development.)  

Long-term well-being is diminished when activities: 

#4 Require continual inputs of non-renewable resources. 
#5 Use renewable resources faster than their rate of renewal. 
#6 Cause cumulative degradation of the environment. 
#7 Require resources in quantities that undermine other people's well-being. 
#8 Lead to the extinction of other life forms. gists this what we mean by sustainability?

• Is this what we mean by sustainability?
• If it is not, upon what point or points do you disagree?
• For what reasons?
• Is there anything missing? 

We have asked these questions for over twenty years and continue to be interested in answers.


This message is critically important for everyone who plans to live on this planet for years to come. It is particularly important for our youth as they contemplate how to help sustain the society that they will depend on to raise families and live out their lives.

I have spent four decades studying cultural evolution as it relates to integrating with the Earth’s limitations.  My hope is to pass along the possibilities I have found to young people who will be wondering how to fit into the world.  Today’s youth have the creativity and motivation to take such seeds and grow them into a truly sustainable civilization.

Among the variety of future possibilities which today’s young will learn about, this perspective may prove relevant.

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Keep your eyes on the stars
and do what's possible

Betty Nickerson

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